Out of the victories and losses
By Bardhyl ZAIMI
Presidential elections in North Macedonia have sealed the pro-Western orientation of the country. The majority of citizens with the right to vote decided on the candidate, Stevo Pendarovski, who during the campaign promoted integration policies that are in line with the expectations of the majority of citizens and in accordance with the many international obligations of the international community. Presidential elections are considered a key moment in a political battle between the two visions promoted by the Macedonian opposition and the ruling coalition. A vision that needs an overview of the political process finalized with the Prespa Agreement and the political vision of the ruling coalition behind this process which resolved the two decade dispute over the name with neighboring Greece.
Foreign media, as well as high representatives of the international community, stressed that pro-European candidate Stevo Pendarovski is the winner of these elections. In public, Pendarovski’s victory was commented as a conclusion of a process that provides Macedonia with a path to integration processes. Presidential elections are considered to be the last chapter of an intense political saga that is linked to the geostrategic direction of North Macedonia. With more than 50,000 votes, this victory was interpreted as a triumph of the political course of the ruling coalition.
After the completion of the election process, there were also various interpretations of the results of each party. In the Albanian political bloc, ruling coalition parties stood behind their mutual candidate, DUI, DPA and Alternativa, viewed this victory as their decisive engagement, on the other hand there were accusations against opposition parties for a quiet boycott in the second round. The opposition, on the other hand, noted that their vote provided the census in the second round.
Apart from these common clashes, the election results speak of the democratic maturity of the electorate in Macedonia. Stevo Pendarovski’s victory is dedicated to promoting prudent and inclusive politics, as well as pro-Western orientation. Most citizens are aligned with this political content, whose dimension is a political path in line with the expectations of the majority of citizens in Macedonia, regardless of their ethnic and religious affiliation. Of course, this vote should be read properly, it should be read as a moment of civil reflection in a given internal and geostrategic context.
Apart from the victories and losses, this election result is a great message about what actually represents and reflects Macedonia as a country. This election message claims to give voice to the concept of a multi-ethnic country and the civic tendency for equality for all. This concept is actually reflected in these elections as a dominant vote in relation to another concept that, despite some small efforts, failed to come out of the exclusive national ideology.
However, these elections, in the first place, provide the new President of North Macedonia with the logic of the future functioning of the post of president of the country, which should be in line with this election to be manifested more as a platform for travelling. Outside the victories and losses of the parties, these elections really reveal the sensitivity of the majority of citizens to an inclusive concept that unites around the idea of a modern country that must now overcome frail political practices and logic and be put in the path of affirmation of common democratic values which are cultivated in the spirit of mutual respect and in the spirit of European values.
This claim certainly remains with many challenges, while the election results point to a solid vote of the candidate supported by the Macedonian opposition party, who has already warned that she will put pressure on the government for early elections. VMRO-DPMNE has read the results of the elections as a strong political return, counting the municipalities in which they won more votes.
However, these were presidential elections, although the results could be read as local or parliamentary elections. This fact already creates a moment of reflection from all political parties in relation to the citizens’ expectations and in relation to the full range of obligations coming from the EU as “homework”. Outside the victories and losses, the current “triumphalism” and “disappointment”, there is a stubborn reality that requires daily responses from the government and, generally, from politics.
Voting for the joint presidential candidate remains a moment of electoral sobriety despite thousands of disappointments that prevail among the citizens and were actually manifested in the first round of elections. This vote overcomes itself, overcoming disappointments and “pride” of successes that continue to affect the lives of citizens. Moreover, this vote is a triumph of the political maturity of the electorate, which at some point rejects all reasonable disappointments and puts itself in long-term strategic coordinates. This is not a vote of “pride,” but a vote of the correct engagement of all the protagonists who have a European vision for North Macedonia.
With this vote, with remarkable maturity, a process ends that started with the Przino Agreement and was finalized with the Prespa Agreement a fundamental achievement for Macedonia’s membership in NATO and as an opportunity to open the negotiations with the EU. In addition to the victories and losses, each political party should see a moment of reflection in order to engage and work on the difficult and irreversible process of NATO and EU membership. Perhaps it is the last moment, beyond victories and losses, to understand the real election message in the two electoral units, to give meaning and answer to the citizens’ expectations.
Winning triumphalism should in no case cover all those government defects that have emerged during these two years. Prime Minister Zaev also said that he had received the citizens’ message in the first round. Pendarovski’s victory emphasized the political will for alignment with Western values, to participate in the implementation of another political concept that implies a system of values that will be constantly grown in the political and institutional space.
In addition to the victories and losses, there is room for daily institutional engagement that implies good governance, rule of law, cultivation of interculturalism, opportunities for all and justice as the main pillar of progress. It is time to think about all these dimensions, of course, always taking into account the role of rational opposition, which will give importance to the political dynamics in terms of irreversible travel to the EU. Out of the victories and losses lies the dark everyday life, but also the ability to correct the practices that have so far created constant disappointment for the citizens.
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